Interview: Danielle Suzanne

Fashion photographer & founder of Zeum magazine.

Main Image by Danielle Suzanne
Tia: Tell us about how you started Zeum, and what you’ve set out to do.  
Danielle: I started Zeum as a side project in University with a few friends. When I gratuated from Ryerson in 2013, I made it a goal to have it exist as a print magazine that was sold on newsstands. Zeum is a platform to showcase the work of young, upcoming creatives. As a photographer, getting into print is incredibly competitive. We use Zeum's print issues to be able to share the creative voice of the younger generation by having their work published and placed on a shelf beside the work of established professionals in the industry.

Tia: Much like Couturesque, you’ve said that Zeum is “by young creatives for young creatives.” Why do you think this youthful voice is so crucial in media? How have you built Zeum into a brand with such a significant following, and what have you learned along the way?
Danielle: I think it's so important that the readers can have a relatable voice to listen to and I really do think there's a Zeum girl. We've been focused on a particular aesthetic that has branded the magazine as being something unique and distinctive; so much so that to the team 'Zeum' has become an adjective to describe what we come across on a daily basis. When we see an image or a garment we tend to say "That's very Zeum!" or "That's not very Zeum!" I know it sounds ridiculous and I promise we're not trying to make it a thing like "fetch!" 

Image by Danielle Suzanne

Tia: I literally do the exact same thing about our site, haha! On that note, what are you & the Zeum team working on right now?  
Danielle: We're currently putting together our 11th issue, which will be scheduled to hit newsstands for November 15th. It's our Autumn/Winter issue and I'm really looking forward to it. The fall issues are my favourite because I find there is so much more you can do with styling and expressing a solid point of view. We're also starting to build out past print content from a lot of our back issues that have sold out - it's really exciting to now be able to share them online in a section that we're calling the "Print Archive."

Tia: That’s such a neat way of intersecting your focus on print with your online presence. But even though the Internet is so critical in fashion media right now, Zeum is a biannual print publication. Why did you chose to go this route? 
Danielle: I've always been a firm believer in print, and I think it's important for up and coming photographers to be able to have a chance to have their work part of a tangible object. As you mentioned, the internet is critical in fashion media right now, but at the same time, it's so easy for a photographer's work to get lost in a sea of other images online. We consume so many photographs on a daily basis that it's becoming difficult for a certain one to stand out. Images are reposted without consent, without proper credit and quality diminishes. I do think the digital world is vital, but at the same time having your work curated and published in something that someone can pull off their bookshelf for a dose of inspiration, or flip through in a store, is a really special thing. Because the work is curated, it becomes elevated and appreciated. 


Zeum Issue 11, c/o Danielle Suzanne

Tia: What fashion photographers inspire you?
Danielle: Clare Shilland, Venetia Scott & Roberta Ridolfi. I'm also really into Matteo Montanari's work right now.

Tia: I’m obsessed with Venetia too! What are common motifs you’re drawn to in your photography?
Danielle: The main thing I want my work to be is genuine. It's clear that I appreciate natural light, beautiful girls and strong, feminine styling, but at the end of the day I want the subjects to feel comfortable on set and I never want anything to be forced or unnatural.

Tia: What is the key to a strong fashion shoot?
Danielle: I've always believed that having a connection with your model is really important. I like to work with new faces and girls that are just breaking into the industry so I always ask a lot of questions and get a conversation going on set so that they can loosen up and not think about 'working' too much. Sometimes I'll wait until they break concentration from the camera, or I'll tell them a funny story while we're shooting to make them laugh. I never want anything to seem forced or overworked.

Tia: Is there a particular collection, model, or place you’re dying to photograph right now?
Danielle: Gucci. Madison Stubbington. He Cong. More Gucci.

Tia: Amen! Finally, do you have any advice for budding fashion photographers and creatives?
Danielle: As cliché as it sounds, shoot as often as you can! Work on developing an aesthetic that is true to you. How incredible is it to distinguish who the photographer of an image is just by looking at it? If you can put a personal stamp on your work, you're set.


You can keep up with Danielle on Instagram and pre-order the next issue of Zeum, due out in November, here.




WORDS BY:
WHO: Tia Elisabeth Glista, Editor in Chief at Couturesque magazine
WHERE: Toronto
OBSESSED WITH: Pink coats
LISTENING TO: Everything is Embarassing - Sky Ferreira
CAN BE FOUND AT: @tia.elisabeth

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I founded Couturesque Magazine when I was 15 years old because like many of my peers, I felt ignored and talked down to by all of the other teen fashion publications out there. I figured that at the end of the day, the people who knew the most about my generation, were the people who belonged to it. The fashion industry is becoming increasingly dependent on the creativity of younger voices who challenge the status quo and make us rethink what we wear and why we wear it. And that is exactly what Couturesque set out to celebrate - authenticity, intelligence, originality, and diversity... in other words, what makes Gen-Z tick. Fast-forward to 2016 and we now have a staff of more than a dozen fashion distruptors contributing to our daily content from all around the globe, 100K+ readers following us from Toronto to New York, to London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv, and a plethora of big-wig industry fans and collaborators. But what matters to us the most is the responsibility that our publication has to make a positive impact in the lives of those who come across it - we stand against retouching our photoshoots and we stand for sharing the beautiful, individual, complex voices of everyone, especially those who feel marginalized by mainstream fashion media. We hope that you love our site as much as we do and that you take the time to follow us (Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / Tumblr / Snapchat / YouTube) throughout our journey to make fashion accessible to the powerful young adults of today.

xo,
Tia Elisabeth Glista
Editor in Chief